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IN AMERICAN 

POEMS 



Books by 
John V. A. Weaver 

In American 

Marge y Wins the Game 

Finders— More Poems in American 



In American— Poems 

By John V. A. Weaver 




New York ^ Mcmxxiv 

Alfred • A • Knopf 



15 

^ ^ C^ COPYKIGHT, 1921, BY ALFRED A. KNOPr, INC. 



,,^ ^ ,^; Published, January, 19S1 

Second Printing, February, 1921 
f Third Printing, March, 1921 

\jn Fourth Printing, May, 1921 

^^ Fifth Printing, August, 1921 

Sixth P-inting, November, 1921 
Seventh Printing, October, 1922 
Eighth Printing, March, 1923 
Ninth Printing, February, 19^U 
Tenth Printing, December, 192h 



PRINTKD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



TO CECIL 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2009 witii funding from 

Ontario Council of University Libraries 



http://www.archive.org/details/inamericanpoemsOOweav 



IN AMERICAN 

POEMS 



" Nothin' or everythin', it's got to be," Nocturne 

You says, and hides your face down on my arm. 
" If it meant nothin', 'twouldn't do no harm, 

Or either everythin' — but this way — see? . . ." 

I feel your tremblin' heart against my coat. 
And the big arc-light moon grins down so cool, 
"Go on!" I think it says, "you softU 
fool!" . . . 

I love you so it hurts me in my throat. . . . 

"Don't make me kiss you; sure, I know you 
could," 
You're pleadin', " And we gone too far for 

play; 
I care a lot . . . but yet not so's to say 
I love you yet. . . . Aw, help me to be 
good!" . . . 

Oh, darlin', darlin', can't you let it be 
Nothin' to you, and everythin' to me? 

II 



filegie I wished I'd took the ring, not the Victrola. 

Americaine You get so tired of records, hearin' an' hearin' 'em, 
And when a person don't have much to spend 
They feel they shouldn't ought to be so wasteful. 
And then these warm nights makes it slow inside, 
And sittin's lovely down there by the lake 
Where him and me would always use ta go. 

He thought the Vic'd make it easier 
Without him; and it did at first. I'd play 
Some jazz-band music and I'd almost feel 
His arms around me, dancin' ; after that 
I'd turn out all the lights, and set there quiet 
Whiles Alma Gluck was singin', " Home, Sweet 

Home," 
And almost know his hand was strokin' my hand. 

*' If I was you, I'd take the Vic," he says. 

" It's somethin' you can use ; you can't a ring. 

Wisht I had ways ta make a record for you, 

12 



So's I could be right with you, even though filegie 

Uncle Sam had me." . . . Now I'm glad he Americaine 

didn't; 
It would be lots too much like seein' ghosts 
Now that I'm sure he never won't come back. . . . 

Oh, God! I don't see how I ever stand it! 
He was so big and strong! He was a darb! 
The swellest dresser, with them nifty shirts 
That fold down, and them lovely nobby shoes, 
And always all his clothes would be one color, 
Like green socks with green ties, and a green 

hat, 
And everything. . . . We never had no words 
Or hardly none. . . . 

And now to think that mouth 
I useta kiss is bitin' into dirt. 
And through them curls I useta smooth, a bullet 
Has went. . . . 

I wisht it would of killed me, too. . . . 

Oh, well . . . about the Vic. ... I guess I'll 
sell it 

And get a small ring anyways. (I won't 
Get but a half as good a one as if 
He spent it all on that when he first ast me.) 
It don't seem right to play jazz tunes no more 
With him gone. And it ain't a likely chanst 

13 



filegie I'd find nobody ever else again 

Americaine Would suit me, or I'd suit. And so a little 
Quarter of a karat, maybe, but a real one 
That I could sparkle, sometimes, and remember 
The home I should of had. . . . 

And still, you know, 
The Vic was his Idea, and so. . . . 

I wonder, i . 



H 



Pardon me, lady, but I wanta ast you Drug 

For God's sake, stop that tappin'. I'll go nuts, ^^o^e 
Plain bug-house if I hear that " Tap-tap-tap " 
Much longer ! . . . 

Now I went and used such langwidge 
I got to tell you why. . . . Well, in the first 

place 
My business is all shot. Now drugs theirselves 
Don't pay much, and the extry stuff, like candy, 
Cigars and stationery and et cetery 
Don't make their keep. And that damn soda- 
fountain 

Excuse me, lady, but I just can't help it! . . . 

Some day I'm gointa catch the guy I bought it 

off. 
I'm losin' money every day it's here. 
And soda-jerkers — now I can't get none 
For love or money, so myself I got to 
Mess with them malted milks, banana splits 
And slop like that. And just as doggone sure 

15 



Drug As I start workin' on some fine prescription, 

Store The kind I love to mix, got to be careful, 

The weights is hittin' on that perfect balance — 
Why then some fool wants a marshmallow sun- 
dae, 
And, " Tap-tap-tap " he starts in on the show- 
case. 
And taps and taps 'til I come runnin' out, 
Leavin' the drugs half-done. . . . 

And that ain't all; 
Here's the big trouble : I can't talk good gram- 
mar. 
People don't think a man that mixes drugs 
Can do it right, and talk the way I do. 
It makes me sick. Why have I got to sound 
Like a school teacher? Why, I know my stuff. 
" Registered Pharmacist," see? I taught myself 
Workin' at night whiles I was four years clerkin'. 
And then I took three months down at the U, 
And passed a fine exam. But here's the thing: 
I quit the public school in seventh grade. 
And never paid no attention to my talk. 
So it's the way I tell you : they're suspicious 
Because I use such slang. I try to stop 
But it's too late now. I found out too late. . . . 

I got a dream of what I'll do some day: 
I want to quit this drug stuff altogether, 

i6 



Have a nice office, with a big oak desk, Drug 

And sell just real estate. I'd like to bet Store 

I'd make a clean-up at it. It'd be swell, 
That office. . . . 

But this life is killin' me, 
It's the fool questions they keeps askin' me. 
You see that clock there? Well, just on a guess 
Three times an hour some silly fish comes in here 
And calls me out, and asts me, " Is that right? 
Is your clock right? " — Honest to Heaven, lady, 
One day I got so sore I took a hammer 
And smashed the face in. And it cost twelve dol- 
lars 
To fix it. But I had peace for a week. . . . 

Oh, gosh, my nerves! . . . But that's the way 
it is. 

I'm sorry I spoke so rough about that tappin', 
But when I get to sellin' real estate 
They'll be no place where folks can take a coin 
And tap, and tap 'til I come runnin' out. 
That's a man's business ! . . . 

If I ever get it. . . . 



17 



*' or I useta think the reason why some folks 

Mammy Just couldn't seem to get nowheres was Luck. 
Don't " ^^^ Luck ain't such a much, I come to think. 

It's somethin' queer about thelrself that does it. 

Now, what I mean, you take this here Miss Ames. 
Ten year ago she run the Fish Department, 
And everybody said that for a woman 
She had a business chanst was wonderful. 
But all she does now is to set out there 
And pass on letters, and that sort of stuff, 
To see that nothin' ain't again the rules. 

Oh, yeh, she keeps her job. They got to have 

her. 
You can be sure that what she says is truth. 
Even Miss Cole, the manager, has got 
To ast for her O. K. — But just the same. 
Miss Cole she gets a salary that's easy. 
Ten times what this Miss Ames drags down per 

week. 

i8 



You see, Miss Ames, she thinks things out all back- *' Ol' 
wards. Mammy 

The Boss oncet said the whole thing in a mouth- Don't " 
ful: 

" She can't start nothin', ain't got no idears 

On how to get things goin'. She don't know 

A single way to do a thing — but say, 

She'll tell you fifty ways how to not do it." 

The girls around here calls her " Mammy 

Don't" . . . 
One day I hands her quite a piece o' work, 
To give it the once-over. In a hour 
I come back, and I says, " Well, how's it goin' ? " 
She gives a frown, and looks at me, and says, 
" I'm tryin' hard to find out somethin' 

wrong." . . , 



19 



Au Don't kiss me! Not no more! . . . Oh, can't 

Revoir you see? 

Everythin's perfect now, the way it is. 
Why do I hafta fight and beg like this? 
It's been so sweet — oh, can't you leave things 
be? 

Oh, now I hurt you! Dear, don't look so 
sad. . . . 
Ah, gee, I guess men ain't got ways to know 
How a girl feels, and when it's time to go. 

And how too much of even kisses is bad. 

But it's the things you didn't just quite do. 
And what's left over for some other day 
That makes her wonder and hope and cry and 
pray. 
And tell herself, "Next time!" and dream of 
you. 

Good night, dear . . . you must go . . . it's for 

your sake. . . . 
I'll dream about that kiss you didn't take. . . . 

20 



Oh, God, that dwellest 'way up there, Prayer 

I want to pray a bran-new prayer. 

It ain't the kind I useta say 

To make me be good every day; 

It ain't the kind my mother taught, 

It's somethin' that I shouldn't ought — r 

It's selfish — maybe bad — but oh, 

Listen — God — I love him so ! 

I guess Thou knows it any way, 
But this is what I want ta say: 
Make me so wonderful that he 
Can't think of nothin' else but me! 
Make my lips red just like wine, 
Gi' my hair a golden shine, 
Gi' my eyes a lovely light. 
Make my body round and white. . . . 

God, it can't be wicked of me 
Beggin' Thee to make him love me, 
Is it, God? I know I never 
21 



Prayer Felt this way before, or ever 

Dreamt no man would come along 
Makin' my heart beat like a song — • 
God, this love that come to me 
Is just like when I think of Thee I . 

Let him love just me alone, 
Make him be my very own! 
I guess that's lots to ast, but oh, 
God, — dear God — I love him so! . 

Amen. . . . 



22 



When I was a kid, on a fresh Spring day Fair 

I useta go at sun-up to get the smell o' May; Exchange 

And say! The waves o' perfumes that they 

would always be ! 
All the flowers in the world, so it looked to me, 
Was mixed with the good ol' fresh-dug ground — 
A kind of smell that God his self would like to 

have around. 

I couldn't find the smell o' the Spring today. 
Somethin' is happened — took it clean away. 
The same kinda apple-blooms was shinin' on the 

tree — 
I guess it ain't the Spring changed — it must be 

me. 
Take my money — take my house — every single 

thing — 
Oh, Mr. Yesterday i — Let me smell the Spring ! 



23 



Denouement So now I get the dirty throwdown, huh? 

What do I mean? Y/eh, that's a good one, ain't 

it? 
How do you get that way? You think I'm Wind? 
I seen you with that girl the other night I 

Aw, Frank, how could ya ever come to do it? 
I ain't changed, am I? Ain't I just as swell? 
Don't my eyes shine the same way, just for you? 
Don't you remember out to old San Soozy 
We win long-distance prizes, dancin' together? 
You says, "You keep the prize; what's mine is 

yourn, 
And vicey versy." Yes, and don't you remember 
When you — when you first kissed me in Jim's 

Ford, 
And all them lovely things you says to me, 
And me believin' 'em, because I loved you? . . . 

I should of knew, I should of knew, I should of I 
Men is the same, kiddin' a girl along, 

24 



Makin' her love 'em, till she lost her brains Denouement 

And done what never can't be undid now! 

But still. . . . 

That night the stars was winkin' down, 
And looked so bright and happy, just like me. 
The little waves was chucklin' 'round the boat, 
You and the wind took turns, kissin' my forrid. 
Down underneath I felt the engines pumpin' 
Just like your heart, pressin' against my cheeks. 

The lights was out, it was so dark and haunted, 
I felt so safe with them big arms around me, 
And dreamy, with the niggers singin' soft, 
Playin' their yukalalies. And I says, — 
Don't you remember what I says? I says, 
*' See them two rows o' lights along the shore? 
Them is the city's teeth, shinin' so white; 
The city's laughin', just like you and me; 
Laughin' and laughin'. Everybody's glad." . . . 

The fool I was! The stupid, crazy fool! 
I listened to your talk, give in to you, 
Lovin' you heart and soul, never went home 
Till noon, lied to 'em all — and now — and 
now — 

I'm finished ! — Thrun away ! . . . Them lights 
was teeth, 

25 



Denouement The teeth the city's got, to tear and tear me — • 
Murderin', tearin' teeth! They got me in 
em! . . . 

Go on away! I never want to see you! 
Go get that red-head fool, tell her I sent you! 
I hope she'll be another fool like me, — 
I hope you burn and burn in Hell! 

I hope — 
Oh, what's there anything to hope for, now? . . . 



26 



" In love," you tells me, " I'm in love again. ^^ 

Say, he's a reg'lar doll! Some boy-chum! Love 

Oh, 
I'm wild about him! — " And you go on so 

The way you always rave about your " men." 

In love I The nerve I Why, on'y just last week 
It was a Jackie; and the week before 
That willy-boy down to the dry-goods store — 

You make me sick so I can't hardly speak! 

Why, when love hits you, everythin's a dream, 
It's like you took some dope, and nothin's real 
Except one face you just can't help but see 

Wakin' or sleepin' . . . All the time you scheme 
How you could help him . . . work ... or 

lie . . . or steal, 
Die, even. . . . And you squawk " In love " to 

me I . . . 



27 



Cats " -^^'^ ^^^ ^^^^^^ things that count," the feller says. 

The strongest guy will get some little worry, 
And even a cat can get a man, and finish him. 

Red Slavin and me was grade school kids together, 
The day us two gets fired out from school 
Fer beatin' up eight bigger guys, us two, 
" Bill," he says, " I'm startin' work tomorrow 
In the contractin' business. Wanta come? " 

" I'm gointa be a grocer, Red," I tells him. 

" Well, well, we hadta split some time," says 

Red, 
Rubbin' his lip, " But you just hear me, boy. 
This splittin's only business. You and me 
Is pals for life. Now swear." He grabs my 

mitt. 
We looks each other straight into the eye, 
And says good-night. . . . 

And so the years run on. I got this store 
And had a medium luck. Two times I thought 
That I was busted flat; but good old Red 

28 



He plunks up with some cash, and saves my neck, Cats 
And all he wants Is thanks. I'm all fixed now, 
I learnt my lesson. . . . Red was another story. 
He got to be a knock-out in his line, 
Savin' the dollars, then he makes a deal. 
Borrows, and makes another and another — 

Keen, that's him. He always guesses right. 
Yet it's not guessin', neither. Makes invest- 
ments, 
Keeps dozens o' plans a-sailin' at a time, 
And all the while so calm, just like a juggler. . . . 

And say, the swell old nights we useta have ! 
The same old Red, pore or rich, he Was. 
Up to his place, we sit around a table 
Shootin' a friendly game, or pitch, or rummy, 
A coupla bottles o' beer, no airs for his'n. 
And fishin' trips, out to Okachee Lake, 
Snaggin' the bass, and talkin' up old times. . . . 

One day Red come and busts in on me, roarin', 
" Bill ! It's my birthday. Come along, you buz- 
zard, 
I wanta knock your eye out ! Wait'll you see ! " 
He drags me out and pops me in his car. 
Won't tell me nothin', only answers, "Wait!" 
Up to the districk where the swells hang out 

29 



Cats He stops in front a house like a hotel, 

So big and ornamented. Red jumps out 

And stands there. Not a word, he can't say 

nothin', 
Swallows a oncet or twicet, and looks at me. 
Finely, " Bill," he says, " how does it hit you? " 
"Whew!" I says, "yourn?" . . . He nods his 
head and blinks. 

" Bill, this is what I hoped and dreamed and 

dreamed of. 
Remember the times I used to gas about it? 
' Some time,' I says, ' I make my pile. And then 
Red Slavin, the kid that's fired from school, '11 

show 'em.' 
I ain't no swell, and I don't want to be none. 
Only I want a place I can be proud of, 
With rooms where I can bring old pal Bill to, 
Rooms that's as big and shinin' as his heart is. 
And now I got it. Two hundred thousand plunks 
It set me back." 

"What? Alio' that? "lasts. 
" Most all I got. But don't you worry. Bill, 
Keepin' it goin' '11 keep me humpin', see? 
The wife thinks I gone nuts. But listen here, 
I got to have somep'n to keep up my ambish, 
Somep'n to work for, see? Gosh, but I love 
it." ... 

30 



I didn't see, but still I couldn't tell him. Cats 

But just the same I didn't like it, no sir. 
I had a — you know — feelin', lookin' at it, 
That things was goin' to happen, and happen bad. 

Well, sir, I goes away about six months. 
And soon's I come back I calls up old Red. 
The second I seen him, say, I had a start. 
Thinner he was, and lookin' awful peaked. 
" Why, Red," I says, " for gosh sake, what's the 
matter? " 

He looks at me, and looks down at the floor, 
And spits out one word, " Cats! " 

" Cats?" I comes back. . . . " Yeh, you heard 

me, Cats ! 
Cats in the alley, cats in the bloody yard, 
Yellin' and hoUerin', screechin' all night through. 
My God, I'm goin' crazy, ravin' crazy. 
When the warm weather come, the cats starts in, 
Last month, in May. I can't get sleep at night, 
My nerves is gone. I can't do business, neither. 
I made a big mistake last week on a contract. 
All from the lack o' sleep, lost twenty thousand." 

" Can't you get rid o' the cats? " I ast him then. 
" I tried and tried. It can't be done," he says. 
" Then sell the house." . . . 

31 



Cats ^^ blinks at me a second, 

" Bill, I can't sell it, no, nor rent it, neither. 
Them cats got to me so, I been a fool. 
I went and talked about it to most everybody. 
Till now they all know all about the cats. 
What'll I do? For God's sake, what'll I do?" 

The phone rings. They wants Red. " I got to 
go," 

He tells me. " A big deal I most forgot. 

I'm losin' my grip, I tell you. Why, I bet 

I'm in to lose five or six thousand more. 

And if I do — I hate to tell you what. 

Cats! Cats! . . ." he dashes to his car out- 
side. . . . 

'Next afternoon I'm at my desk, a-puzzlin' 
How I can fix them cats, and help old Red. 
The phone bell starts to jingle. It's Red's wife. 
" I got Red in the country, come out quick. 
He made a bad deal yesterday. He's sick, 
Ain't slept a wink last night." . . . 

And when I get there 
I see Red, leanin' up again a tree, 
Settin', and lookin' like a done-up drunk. 
His wife is cryin'. " Take him for a walk," 
She wispers, " Bill, you try to calm him down. 
He had to leave the house — Bill — do you 
think 

32 



He's goin' crazy? He won't go away Cats 

To travel, says he's goin to stick it out, 
Fightin' them cats." 

I grabs Red by the shoulders, 
Gives him a shake, yanks him to his feet. 
He don't say nothin', only sorter staggers. 
" What is it. Red? Come on, old feller, shoot 1 " 
Not a word yet. I slips my arm around him. 
And drags him, walkin'. 

After a hundred yards, 
Maybe, he walks his-self, but still ain't peeped 
A word. And so we goes along the road, 
June singin' in the fields and on the trees 
Covered with new leaves; but in my old pal's head 
Nothin' but howls and caterwauls and screeches. 

Most of a mile we staggers. Red makes signs 
He wants to rest. I stands there lookin' out 
Over the prairie blazin' full o' flowers; 
A lovely stillness; only the birds keep whistlin*. 
Mixed with the clink and clank o' workmen's 

picks, 
Fixin' the track, and a train whistle comin'. 

After about a minute, sudden-like 

I hear Red's voice, so quick it makes me jump. 

" I got a plan, Bill. Say, I'll get them cats, 

33 



Cats I'll knock 'em cold. Now, first I get some poison, 

Say, Rough on Rats, you see? And take some 

meat 
And lay it all around. And then to fix it 
So none of 'em ain't gettin' off, I take 
Some boards and fixes up a huntin' blind 
The way we use ta shoot ducks on the river, 
Billy, old boy. And there's a tall fence runs 
Back o' my yard. A twenty-two '11 carry 
A-plenty. Now the fence is just this far. 
Look." He turns me around. " Now you stand 

here." 
I'm glad to humor him. I stands and watches. 
*' The fence is here — " He turns and paces off, 
Countin' the paces. " Ninety — ninety-one — " 
He reaches a. hundred and fifty — and starts to 

runnin'. 

I stands there stupid, not knowin' w?\at to think. 
And — quick — I hears the roarin' of the train. 
And then I seen. . . . " Reddy — for God'4 

sake — Red!" 
Faster he runs. I dashes after him, 
My heart is chokin' me, holdin' me back. 

He jumps the fence, he scrambles up the bank— * 
Oh, Christ — please let me reach him! — then I 
stumbles, 



34 



Falls flat. — Jump up — the train is almost on Cats 

him, 
He's standin' in the track, wavin' his arms, 
Dancin' and yellin', " Cats! Take 'em away! 
I'll fool 'em — Cats! Cats! — never no cats 
No more ! " . . . 

"Reddy! Reddy! Jump — jump!" 
I'm sobbin', cursin', cryin' — 

Then the train hits him. . . . 



35 



Finis Don't look like that ! You know I druther die 

Than hurt you, ever, any. But it wouldn't 
Be but a worst hurt after, and I couldn't 
Say nothin' else that wouldn't be a lie. 

It's a queer sorter way that I love you — 
A kinder quiet, happy peace you bring, 
Like after a rainstorm hearin' a robin sing — 

But it ain't the flamin' way vou want me to. 

God knows I tried, and even tried to kiss you 
And find it that way, but it wasn't real — 
They wasn't that fire I always hoped Fd 
feel. . . . 
So . . . it's good-bye. . . . Oh, God, I'm goin' 
to miss you, 

The way you smile, the little things you say. . . . 
But Truth is Truth. . . . They ain't no other 
way. . . . 



36 



Well, boys, that's twicet 1 win. I leave It lay. Concerning 
*' The works or nothin' " — that's me every time. Pikers 
Four Jewish flags I blow, four lovely bucks. 
It's sugar in your mouth! — How's that? All 

set? — 
Go get 'em, dices! — Wham! — Read 'em and 

weep I . . . 

Oh, Snake-eyes, acety-ace — you done me wrong! 
Craps, and I lose the works. . . . All right, I'm 

through. 
It ain't no use to buck the jinx, but listen. 
Brother, I may be right in a few minutes. 
And when I am — look out for your gol' teeth. 



My motter's " play 'em hard or else not any." 

I got no use at all for these here pikers 

That drags down every time they makes a pass. 

A piker is a guy that plays it safe. 

And that's the place I'll say they always ends, 

Safe where they started in. You tell 'em, brother. 

37 



Concerning Don't get me wrong, though. All the flops is 

Pikers full 

O' suckers that takes a chanst on anythin'. 
You gotta use judgment. But a piker, now. 
They got no faith in nothin', not even theirself. 

Dick Finch, he was a goof like what I mean. 
Well, this bird has a job down to a shoe store. 
Gets just enough to keep his bones together. 
And keeps the same job seven straight-on years 
Without no raise. He come to me one day 
And spills a moanin' howl. It was like this, 
He says, his old man keeps a little store 
Out to the West Side, sellin' fruit and such. 
Now they's a mortgage on it, comln' due. 
And if he can't raise six hunderd cold bucks 
By three weeks from that day, his Pa is ruint. 

I stands there for a minute. Then I says, 

" How much dough do you think that you can 

raise 
Right now? " He fishes in his pockets then, 
And hauls me out a roll o' dirty bills. 

" Thirty-three dollars. All I saved this year." 

" Now, listen, Bud, just how much do you care 
About your Pa? Enough to take a chanst 
On losin' all o' this to save his neck? " 

38 



He gulps, and nods his head. " You bet I do." Concerning 

Pikers 
" Well, then, I'm gonna give you somep'n straight. 
This dough is all you got. You got no ways 
O' gettin' hold o' no six hunderd dollars, 
Not with no job like yourn. They's just one way: 
You go down to the track this afternoon. 

" Now in the third race, they's a dog name 

Lucas. 
Two birds I know has got that mule in pickle, 
And somep'n tells me that today's the day 
They set to make a killin'. Nobody knows 
Exceptin' me and them about him, see? 
I got a-plenty right now on his nose. 
You go down there, and find the nearest bookie, 
And put *he whole roll on this skate — to win I " 

He sorter trembles " What, the whole darn 
roll?" 

" That's what I said, you hearn me," answers me. 
" If I ain't right, you lose. But even then 
Your Pa ain't no worse off than he is now. 
And it's a good tip what I'm givin' you. 
The odds you get'll be twenty to one. 
And if that plater romps in to the merry. 
You draw down what you need, six hunderd frog- 
skins, 

39 



Concerning And sixty more besides. . . . Now I ain't sayin' 
Pikers That this is no sure thing. But it's a chanst, 

And a durn good one. So hop to it, fella, 
And just this one time say, ' The works or 
nothin'.' " 

Honest, you should of saw what this bird done. 
I thought the pore durn simp was goin' to kiss 

me. 
I give him a shove, and off he puts a-runnin'. 

That night I seen this Finch down to the pool- 
room. 
I walks right up and clouts him on the back. 
" Well, sport, we sorter knocked 'em for a gooL 
I'll tell the world we did — why, what's the mat- 
ter?" 
I looks again. This Finch starts In to blubber, 
*' Oh, God ! — Oh, God ! — " and he can't get no 
further. 

I grabs his shoulders, gives him one good shake. 
" Say, what the what? " I says. " This ' Lucas ' 

win. 
He walks in backwards, like I told you, don't he? 
What' re you yellin' about? Your Pa is saved, 
You got a nest-egg over, too — but wait — 
You went there, didn't you?" 



40 



" Yeh, I went," he blubbers. Concerning 
" I seen the prices — ' Lucas, twenty to one.' Pikers 
I has my money in my hand, and walks up 
And gets right to the bookie — then a somep'n 
It seems to scare me. I gets thinkin' how 
Evcrythin' that I got is in my hand. 
And sorter sudden-like my knees starts tremblin', 
And then — I guess I must of gotten crazy 
Just for a minute, and — " 

" Go on, go on! " 
I hollers, feelin' sick. 

" Oh, God — I done 
Like what I alius do — I took and bought 
A two-buck ticket for this horse to show, 
Just as the bettin' closed." . . . 

Well, can you beat it? 
I guess a piker oncet, a piker forever. 
It's in the blood, you see ! . . . 

Gimme them bones I 



4> 



Carpe Why're you always pullin' sob-stuff? 

j)ieni Honey, what's the big idear? 

" Will I never love no others ? — 

How many girls do I get a year? " 
What's the good o' borryin' trouble? 

Damn tomorrow! What's it worth? 
Just this lovin' night can give us 
Everythin' there is on earth. 

Say, you know old Apple Annie, 

Blurry-eyes, and nose all blue? 
Oncet she was a knock-out looker, 

Oncet she was as sweet as you. 
While she's creepin' 'round the alleys 

Why d'ye think she smiles all day? 
'Cause her old bean's all chuck full with 

Things no years can't take away. 

Kiss me like you want to kiss me. 
Lock your arms around me tight ! 

Don't be fightin' what you're feelin' — * 
Nothin' matters but tonight! 
42 



When you're dry, and white, and plnched-up Carpe 
You'll remember times like this — Diem 

You'll be glad and glad, I tell you, 
For the joys you didn't miss. 



43 



Moonlight 



Say — listen — ^ 

If you could only take a bath in moonlight 1 

Hey ! Can't you just see yourself 

Take a runnin' dive 

Inta a pool o' glowin' blue, 

Feel it glidin 'over you 

All aroun' and inta you — 

Grab a star — huh? — 
Use It for soap; 
Beat it up to bubbles 
And white sparklln' foam — ' 
Roll and swash — 

Gee! 

I just like to bet 

You could wash your soul clean 

In moonlight! 



44 



Come on, boys, what's your order? This'n's Dry! 

mine. 
Bourbon or Scotch or wine? It's Jimmy's 

round — 
The last you'll ever get in Jimmy's place. 

You're all my boys, ever' last one o' you 
That's come to see ol' Jimmy get his knock- 
out — 
Twenty-two years, and this is the end o' 
Jimmy. . . . 

Why, sure, I'm busted. I ain't no boot-legger, 
You know my motter, " Jimmy's alius square," 
The licker's out. The rest'rant closes too. 
I won't charge wild, or run the prices down. 
I'm through, boys; that's the answer. 

Say, this place 
It was my sweetheart. Say, the only thing 
I ever loved. Them mirrors — and them 
glasses — 

45 



Dry J Them bottles, now — I felt like they was me kids. 

I alius made my meals the same as if 
They was some po'try — say, how many times 
You hear 'em tell they was the best in town? 
And now them pussy-whiskers comes along, 
Closes me up, says I'm a " evil infloonce." 



A evil infloonce — me ! Why, you boys' fathers 
I know 'em since they come here years ago, 
Steppin' young fellers, breakin' the girls' hearts, 
Courtin', and marryin', and settlin' down, 
Makin' their fortunes, — why, I seen it all. 
Years after years o' life. And all at Jimmy's 
Makin' the friends they stuck to, celebratin' 
The happy things, tryin' to forget the sad ones. 



They's lots o' things they learned right here at 

Jimmy's 
They couldn't of learned outside. Like, how to 

drink 
And hold it like a gentleman. And how 
To make a friend and keep him. How to mix 
With other men, and how to entertain 'em. 
And when to keep your mouth shut . . . and 

there's more. 
But that's all finished now. Them whiskers 

wins. . . . 

46 



You'll miss me, boys, and say, will I miss you — Dry I 
Them shiny pumps, them lovely hard-boiled shirts 
After the dances. . . . 

Well, I said my say. 

So come on, grab your glasses. . . . Bottoms up ! 



47 



Pets 



You take a dog, oncet you get it to love you, 
You lose your home, your dough, your grub and 

all. 
The old dog sticks. ... A cat's a different crit- 
ter, 
More like a slot-machine : put in a meal 
You get a purr right back; no meal, no purr — 
Claws, prob'ly; then, " So long." . . . 

I'll take a cur. 



49 



Push the screen back just a little more " Died of 

So's I can hear 'em playln' " To the Color." Influenza " 

Wisht I could see the boys, clickln' their heels 

smart, 
All glad and clean, neat fer Retreat, after the 

day's sweat. 

Here's me in bed — God, what a joke, — 
Me that wanted to fight, knowin' I gotta croak, — ? 
Don't kid me. Doc, the head's burnin' up — 
I know. Doc — I know. 

I left my job, six bucks a day. 

Expert lathe hand, that was me. 

Told 'em I hated the Dutch, wanted to carry a 

gun. 
Drilled, drilled, drilled. 
Gets hard as nails — then a order come — 

" Expert lathe hand, Richard H. Jones 
Transferred at oncet." So I come here 

49 



" Died of Down to the Audience corps — me that wanted 
Influenza " to fight — 

They takes my gun, gives me a shovel. 

Audience corps, right — all my buddies gone 
Scrappin' over seas, me left to watch, 
Watch — and dig latrines. 

" Jones, lathe hand, what the bloomin' Hell," 
So the C. O. says, ** No place for you 
Just yet awile. Here's a shovel, Jones, 
You do your bit — dig, Jones, dig! — " 

That's the way it is, me that wanted to fight 
Stuck in a hole here, 
Diggin' — God ! — latrines ! 

Good ol' army, huh? 

Still, I suppose 

Somebody knows 

What's the big idear, and I guess a guy 

Can fight for what he loves, 

And do his damned bit, 

Yeh, and die for it — 

Even with a shovel. 

SO 



There was me, walkin' peaceful down the alley, ^[q^ 
Smokin' a pipe. The sun was blazin' down, 
It was all quiet, like any reg'lar noon-day. 
I squats down on a bar'l, lights a match, 
And, " Bang-bang-bang! " I hears, and drops the 
pipe. 

A guy runs at me, hollers, " You! Where is he? 
You seen him ! " I just sets there. " Keep your 

shirt on," 
I says. " Where's who? " 

" The Nigger 1 Where's he at? " 
They gangs around me. I just sets there dumb. 
More on 'em runs up, yelpin' " Get the coon." 
They jams aroun' the cellar; they's a yell, 
They dashes down the steps. ... A dozen 

shots. . . . 
The white guy next me pitches up his mitts 
And flops down. . . . Then. . . . 



51 



Riot Listen, I wanta ast you, 

You been down to the zoo, feedin' time? 
You seen the keeper thrun a hunk o' steak, 
You hearn the awful snarl the tigers gi'n? 
. . . That mob. . . . 

They drags this moanin' nigger out, 
They kicks his face in right before my eyes, 
They plugs him full o' bullets, 
What's left ain't even quiverin' no more. 
I seen it, me. The wagon comes a-clangin', 
Nobody left but me to tell about it, 
Me and the half-killed bum. . . . 

And now you come, 
Tryin' to make me swear before a judge 
This pore old alley-cat was goin' gunnin', 
And murderin' white guys. . . . 



S2 



I s'pose I was a dumb-bell. That's what Mame Mamc 

said, 
Least wise she didn't say it in them words, 
But " dumb-bell " — that was what she meant, all 

right. 
And all because I couldn't understand her. 

But what can you do with a girl that wants to 

set 
Out on a rock and watch the waves come up, 
Right in plain daylight? And you're talkin' to 

her. 
And all at oncet she says, " Can't you keep quiet? 
Can't you see the waves is whisperin' secrets at 

me?" . . . 
— If she wouldn't of been so wonderful to look 

at. 
And so darn sweet the few times that she was 

sweet, 
I wouldn't never fooled with her at all. 
But that's the funny thing. The more I seen 

her, 

S3 



Mame And the more she went off into — you know — 

fits 
Like she was miles away, the more I wanted 
her. . . . 

Here's one trick I put up with from this Mame. 
One time at ten P. M. she comes to the house, 
Says, " Get your heavy coat, we're goin' ridin'." 
" Ridin'," I says. " Say, Mame, what's eatin' you? 
A blizzard's outside, and the worst this year." 
" Shut up. Come on," she says, and drags me 

out. 
We rides two hours in a open hansom, — 
I guess it was one that Noah had in the ark — 
The snow just stingin' and beatin' on our face, 
And all because Mame never done it before, 
And seen the cab, and wanted to. She said 
It was a real adventure. ... I got chil- 
blains. . . . 

What can you do when you take a girl to dinner, 
And she goes and orders — heck — of all things 

— snails ! 
And when I ast her to a real good show. 
She makes me change it to some darn grand oprer, 
And won't set downstairs, but she has to stay 
Up in the Peanut Gallery, with the Dagoes. 

I sure did stand a lot! . . . She was bad enough 
In the city; but when she got out to the country 

54 



She sure complete went wild. If she seen a field 
Where they was grass and flowers, she takes a 

run 
And jumps and rolls aroun' ; and not just her, 
She makes me do It, too. I was so shamed. 
It wasn't right, us bein' so old, you might say. . . . 

And one time towards evenin' we was walkin'. 
And come to a little crick. The fish was jumping 
And right away she says, " I want to fish! " 
We couldn't fish, I argues, there wasn't no poles, 
Nor hooks, nor lines nor nothin'. She says, 

" Hush. 
I got a pin. You bend it on a rock, 
I'll get a line, all right. Go on and bend it." 
Whiles I was turned aroun', I hears a rip, 
She hands me a long piece of her underskirt, 
Honest, it made me blush. She breaks a stick 

off, 
And catches a grasshopper, and she fishes. 
And what do you think? She catched a fish, at 

that, 
A thing about two inches long. And say, 
I thought it was a whale, the fuss she made. 

She was sp happy, I didn't know what to think, 
And afterwards we laid down on a haystack. 
And she was watchin' the stars, and sorter hum- 
min', 

SB 



Mame 



Mame So sweet I got a notion it was me 

That she was singin' about, and I tried to kiss 

her. 
That sure was one bum guess. She turns all 

white, 
And says, " All right, you had to ruin it. 
I might of knew." And then we went back home, 
Her starin' straight ahead, and sayin' nothin'. . . , 

And then, the next day, she was fine again. 

I couldn't tell what she was ever thinkin'. 
Things went on that way, me bein' her dog, 
You might say, tryin' to bust away, and yet 
All the time comin' back. So then, one day, 
I swore I'd have a showdown. I was through 
With all this foolin'. Either I was right 
Or either wrong, and I was goin' to find out. 

I ast her to eat lunch with me at Schlogel's. 
I gets there first, all set up and excited. 
And in a minute here she comes, all fixed up, 
Prettier'n a little red wagon. We sets down, 
And *' That's a nice new suit. How good you 

look," 
Says Mame, and so I'm feelin' fine, right off, 
And she is wonderful, laughin' and talkin', 
So's I can't hardly wait to say my spiel. 

56 



I orders, and the waiter beats it. Then Mame 

I clears my throat, and looks at her, and starts, 

" Mame, I got somethin' that I want to ast you — 

Mame — " And I starts to lean 'way over to her, 

And finds my pants is ruined. 

What do you think? 

Some boob has stuck a great big wad of gum 

Right to the chair, and I was settin' in it! 

You know, I got so mad I couldn't think. 

I clean forgets all I was tryin' to say. 

And hollers "Damn it!" . . . There was my 

new suit 
All ruined with that gum. Mame busts out 

laughin'. 
And when she laughs I'm gettin' all the sorer. 

Then she gets sore, too. " What's a little thing 
Like that," she says. " You ack just like a kid! " 
Maybe I did, but who's the guy that wouldn't? 
I calls the manager, and bawls him out 
Like any guy would do. 

And suddenly 
Mame she gets right up, and she sorter smiles 
And says, " Good-bye. And this is real good- 
bye. 
Charley, you'll never learn to really live 
Unless you get so little hurts don't matter. 

57 



Mame Life is too big to let a thing like gum 

jMean such a lot to you." . . . And out she sails. 
I calls her up next day. She tells me no, 
She found that her and me can't hit it off. 

" Here's the whole truth: You drag me down," 

she says. 
" You don't know how to dream, and never won't. 
That's all. Good-bye." 



58 



I can't just understand about the Fall. October 

Why, everythin's so wild and bright and gay I 

It's like the world was at a Fancy Ball, 
And nothin' mattered excep' just to play. 

The birds is singin' crazy bran-new tunes; 

The bushes got red ribbons for their hair; 
The trees looks like they bought theirself bal- 
loons. 

Scarlet and yellow wavin' in the air. 

They know they got old Winter fooled, I s'pose. 
And though he'll come some day, and tear and 
roar, 
Bust up their party, ruin their pretty clo'es. 

It'll be all right when Spring comes back once 
more. 

And still, it makes me all choke up, to know 
All lovely things that's now, has got to go. 



59 



Snoozer Of all the joke curs that I ever seen, 

This Snoozer sure did get the old brown derby. 

Aunt Effie alius said he was a poodle — 

To me he looked like a white muft on wheels. 

Pa useta say nobody couldn't love 

A thing like that, exceptin' somep'n mean, 

Which he was meanin' to say the one that owned 

him, 
Aunt Effie. 

They was a pair, I'll tell the world. 
Aunt Effie, she was sure one born old maid. 
The face the good Lord gi'n her was the kind 
You make after a dose o' Castor Oil; 
Far from improvin' Nature, she lets things slide; 
Her voice cut like a knife on everybody 
Except that awful cur, this Snoozer dog. 

We all was sure she had a mint o' money — 
Some said her step-ma left her thirty thousand. 
You couldn't tell. Her room cost two bucks a 
week, 

60 



She cooked her meals over a gas-jet. But Snoozer 

One thing was sure: Snoozer was always fixed 
With silky ribbons, blankets, even shoes 
Made out o' wool, for them ridic'lous paws. 
Aunt Effie loved that dog; the world outside 
She hated; and it paid her back with interest. . . . 

One day Pa runs in, hollers, " Effie's dyin'. 

I'm goin' over." I foUers, just to see 

What happens. I hung back down on the 
landin'. 

No sooner Pa goes up, when Uncle Jim, 
Aunt Mame and Cousin Henry rushes by me. . . . 
Sudden, I hears a yelp, a door bangs open, — 
Wild cursin', — the whole crew runnin' out, and 

then 
More howls and yips upstairs. Then this here 

Snoozer 
Limpin' and draggin' his foot. Aunt Effie's 

voice 
Like she was lost in the dark, cryin' and cryin', 
"Snoozer! Comeback! — Snoozer!" . . . 

I squats down quick, 
And pats the floor. *' Hyuh, Snoozer ! Nice ol' 

doggie," 
I says like sugar. Snoozer looks around 
Like he can't trust his ears, hearin' a voice 

6i 



Snoozer That ain't Aunt Effie's, talkin' to him nice. 

I crope up on him, while he stands there shiverin', 
And grabs him gentle. Then I takes him quick 
Up to the room, and plumps him on the bed. 

Aunt Effie give a moan, like to a baby. 
And hugs and kisses that there pitiful cur, 
Me standin' first on one foot then the other. 

I hears her voice then, feeble and soft and strange, 
I wouldn't of knowed it. " Bub," she says, " I'm 

goin'. 
Tomorrow I'll be dead. But praise to God, 
Before I died I seen two things was wonderful. 
One was what happened when your Pa came in, 
With all them other smirkin' hypocrites, 
Tryin' to make friends, now they's sure I'm 

dyin'. 
Tonight they troops here, all as smooth as silk 
After my money. But this Snoozer here, 
He knows what's true from lies. He gi'n one 

look. 
He snaps your Aunt Mame's finger, then he grabs 
Your Pa's pants " — then she squeaks a feeble 

laugh. 

" You should of saw it. Bub. Their real selfs 
showed 



62 



Like lightnin'. Two on 'em kicked pore little Snoozer 

Snoozer, 
They tried to kill him . . . yeh, fine chanst they 

got 
For any o' my money. . . . 

" Now this Snoozer, 
He's all I got, or ever had. He loves me, — 
Don't um, ol' Snoozer? — and I sure love him. 
The other wonderful thing I seen is this : 
You bein' kind to Snoozer. Never I hoped 
To see no member of my lovely fambly 
That had a heart, was real and genuwine. 
I never ast no favors from nobody — 
I'm goin' to ast one now: Will you take 

Snoozer 
And keep him for me, always treat him kind? " 

" Why, sure," I says, " I will." I felt a lump 
Down in my throat, it was so sad, and all. 

" Thank God," she says. " All right. Bub, I can 

trust you. 
Now, go away. — No, go on ! — Leave me alone. 
I want to finish out the way I lived, 
Nobody 'round. Go on." 

I finds the door, 
She says, " Good bye. . . . Don't go back on 
your promise." . . . 

63 



Snoozer She died in the night, I guess. Pa and the others 
They made a loud noise over the funeral, 
With carriages and things. And two days after 
Old Lawyer Green he reads her will in the parlor. 

" She leaves to Bub, here, that there pet dog, 

Snoozer. 
The money — only seven thousand, it is, 
Goes to the Smithfield Home for Friendless 

Dogs." 

Oh, gee, you should of hearn the row there was! 
If what Aunt Effie wanted was a cussin' 
She sure did get it. If she ain't in Hell 
It ain't because the whole pack didn't hope 
so. . . . 

For me, I made a promise, and I kept it. 
Three times I had to hide the dog from Pa 
So's that he couldn't kill it. Freddy Mason 
And me, we built a small house outa boxes 
Down to his yard, and Snoozer stayed all summer 
In there, without Pa knowin'. By the winter 
I had a job the other side o' town, 
Roomin' alone, and took this Snoozer with me. 

You know, it's queer, that dog got reas'nable. 
After a month o' mournin', sniffin' around 
Lookin' for old Aunt Effie, he got to like me. 

64 



You won't believe me, but he changed complete. Snoozer 
He useta watch out for me, in the evenin', 
Comin' from work. ... He learnt some dandy 

tricks, 
And — well, to make it short, I come to love 

him. . . . 

Five year ago I got him. Even then 
He musta been fifteen year old, or more. 
This last year he was gettin' feebler and feebler. 
And then, two weeks ago, I come home late, 
And finds pore Snoozer stretched out by the fire- 
place. 

It's durn lonely 

Around the place without him. There's a some- 
thin' 
You give a dog, nobody, not your friends. 
Nor wife, nor kids, even, don't never get. . . . 

And say, look what old Green he sends to me 
This mornin'. It's a note. Aunt Effie wrote it: 

" The person that gets a dog to trust and love 

him, 
I think he gets enough reward from that. 
And yet, if Lawyer Green is satisfied 
You kept your promise, here's a little present 
From me and Snoozer. Take it with our thanks." 

65 



Snoozer And underneath, a note from Lawyer Green, 
" Please call, next Saturday, at my address 
To get your check that's here, three thousand dol- 
lars 
•Plus five years' interest, at six per cent." . . . 



66 



(Easter Sunday, April, 19 18) Head 

Lines 

They's headlines snarlin' at me from the " Jour- 
nal," 
" Hun Drive Slows." 

Slows! And I prayed last night it was stopped 1 
A robin just hopped 
On top of a red-bud tree, 
Looks to me like a rose 

That a girl's holdin' up next to her cheek. . . . 
Or maybe like that liquid fire them Germans 
uses. . . . 

Clink! — Clink! — 

The sidewalks is ringin' from the feet 

Of folks goin' to church, all neat, 

Gettin' ready to split their voice 

Singin', "Rejoice! Rejoice! 

He is risen! " 

Like a man outa prison 

The vi'lets is bustin' outa the ground. . . . 

The headlines I'm starin' at jumps and lurches: 

67 



Head *' Mystery Gun Slays Crowds 

Lines Prayin' in Paris Churches." . . , 

Here comes a young sojer 
With a girl hangin' onto his arm. 
Right here only a year ago Jim useta walk 
And him and me would useta talk 
All about the glories o' fightin' for your coun- 
try. . . . 
" Airman Falls in Gallant Fight " — 

That was Jim's headline. ... I was Jim's 

girl. . . . 
Just such a light 
He useta have in his face, 
Just like that he had a sorter grace 
When he walked. . . . Just like that 
His hair useta curl. . . . 



Apple-blossoms is ridin' along on the breeze, 

Flutterin' down from the trees 

Like a sweet-smellin' snow— - 

Or like frost on them graves In Picardy. . . . 

Oh, God! 

Good God, almighty God, 
Are you gonna stand by 

And let all the things that was beautiful die? 

68 



Them Huns is klllln' even the Spring, Head 

Every Httle no-account lovely thing, Lines 

Twistin' everythin' inta pain. . . . 

Oh, God, 

Won't Beauty never come no more again 1 . . . 



69 



White Say, Ma, I want to tell you about Pa. 

Collars We got to have a new deal in this house. 

I ain't gonna stand no more o' his fool talk. 



Don't bust in on me. I know what I'm doin'. 

This ain't no new idear. Many a time 

I been about to say it, only now 

I come to where it's gettin' on my nerves. 

He's like a phonograft with just one record, 

And he keeps playin' it, over and over and over. 



Seems like the first stuff I can ever remember 

Is all that bunk about a " edjucation," 

Pa bein' fixed to go down to the CJ, 

And then his Pa dies, and he goes to work 

To keep old Gramma goin'. " Will," he says, 

** I never got the thin' I wanted most. 

But never mind, you'll get it. Will, you'll get it. 

My son is goin' to be a college man. 

I'm savin' all the time a College Fund." 

70 



Remember how he always talked that way? White 

And then the day I went down to the High School Collars 
He give me a swell new watch, and pats my shoul- 
der, 
And says, " Good boy, Will, now you got the 

system. 
Plug at the books, and plug, and keep a-pluggin ; 
They's stuff in books you can't get nowhere else, 
Stuff that'll give you dreams, and that's what 

counts ; 
Men that can dream is the ones that' beats the 
world." 

The first time that I got real good and sore 

Was when he points me out that Freddy Keefe, 

And says he hopes that I should be like that. 

Why should I want to be a sorter mouse, 

Nice enough feller, but a-scared to fight 

Or play, or nothin' else but fool with books? 

I couldn't help if I was born the way 

I was, and liked to run around, and hated 

Latin, and that damn Algebra, and so on. 

But even then I might of gotten through 

If he wouldn't of give me a lickin' for not passin' 

Into the third year High. That spilled the 

beans. 
I only stuck that long because I knowed 
How much it meant to him. But gettin' licked — * 
You said yourself you didn't blame me much 

71 



White For beatin' it the way I did, and bummin' 

Collars Down into Texas. . . . Talk about " edjuca- 
tion " ! 
I seen more in one year than lots o' guys 
'LI ever see if they lives to be a hunderd. 

Pa knows I wasn't never any burden. 

I earned my keep and more, didn't I, now? 

I useta feel kinder sorry now and then, 

Special the time I found the old bank book, 

And ast him what would he do with the College 

Fund 
He was still keepin', though I was sixteen then, 
And he says he didn't know, but maybe hoped 
They was a chanst I'd change my mind some day, 

I guess he thought I was a just plain bum. 
It sorter socked him when he ast Sam French 
Where I was workin' and repairin' autos, 
And Sam tells him I was the best repair man 
On the West Side. 

And when I comes and tells him 
I wants to borry the College Fund to use 
For capital to start my own garage, 
I swear I think he cried when he give it to me. 
He needn't been that way. I paid it back, 
Yeh, and I give him interest, eight per cent. 
It didn't take me only two years to do it. 

72 



Look what I done for you and him and me ! White 

Though I ain't the one to say it, do you know Collars 

Where they's another guy that's twenty-seven 

And makes the dough I make ? All in six years 

I built a fine big house, I got a Packard 

To ride you in, and business is boomin' 

So's now I aim to open up three branches. 

And here last night this Freddy Keefe comes over, 

And him and Pa is gassin' roun' the fire. 

A fine, hot-lookin' bird this Freddy is. 

With his suit shinin', and his scuffed-up shoes, 

Tellin' me how he loved his work and all. 

Him a perfesser, tryin' to teach a gang 

O' shell-shocks how to read and write and such. 

And when I shows him all my new silk shirts 
He sorter smiles, and says, " You're lucky. Will. 
I won't get a new overcoat this winter; 
I bought a season ticket to the concerts." 
And then him tellin' Pa about some painter 
That had a exposition in the Institute — 
All about Whoozis, some new Irish pote, 
And somethin' about the " grace o' Grecian sculp- 
cher." 

The grace o' my cat's ankle! Edjucation! 
That's all the good his learnin' done for him. 
He ain't got nothin', and he never won't have, 

73 



White I couldn't listen to that line o' bunk, 

Collars So I just starts the player-piano goin', 

And Freddy says good-bye and goes away. 

That's when Pa comes and has the nerve to tell 

me 
I shoulda listened to Freddy. *' I just tell you," 
He says. " You needn't be so rude to Freddy. 
He's gettin' a repitation everywhere." 
" For what? For shiny clo'es? " I comes back, 

laughin'. 
Pa's face gets red. " No, for a lit'ry cricket." 
" Haw haw," I says. " He sure chirps mighty 

feeble." 

That's when Pa makes the break that gets my 

goat. 
" Well, you can laugh," he says, " But just the 

same 
I'd give the world if you was only like him." 

Just think o' that! Now, honest, can you tie it? 
Me, that'll be a real rich man some day, 
Trade places with a teacher ! With a bum 
That scarcely gets a good square meal a week! 
Concerts, and pitchers — yeh, and I spose pink 
teas. 

All right, if that's the kinda things Pa wants 
He can get out and find it. I won't keep him, 

74 



And feed him swell, and dress him swell, and give White 
him Collars 

A great big room, and rides in bran-new Pack- 
ards. 

If he wants what this Freddy Keefe is got. 
By God, he's got to get it somewhere's elset. 
But I ain't goin' to hear no more about it. 

You tell him this for me — tell him I mean it: 
Either he shuts his trap and keeps it shut 
About this edjucation stuff, or elset 
He can get the Hell out of here. 

That's alll 



7S 



" Catfish " When Jake played his cornet, his face 
Green Looked hke a catfish when you land him; 

We called him " Catfish " Green, and laughed, 
And never tried to understand him. 

He sawed and hammered at his bench 
Without a word or smile, all day; 

But when night come, he'd get that horn 
And be a changed man, right away. 

I see him now, when he'd oblige 

With " Silver Threads Among — " you know- 

His fingers lovin' at the keys. 

The long notes wailin' smooth and low. 

That was great stuff. But when he led 
The concerts with the other boys 

Down to the square, in summer-time, 
Why, Hell ain't never hearn such noise. 

They squawked and blared, and lost the time 
We laughed until we almost died. 

76 



But " Catfish " — he would yell and swear — " Catfish " 

And oncet he broke down flat, and cried. Green 

Still, through three years, two times a week 

He made that awful band rehearse, 
And never seemed to realize 

It never got no good, but worse. 

And then, one day the news flew round, 

" On July Fourth our town will be 
Host to our country's President " — 

Jake grinned, and muttered, " Now you'll 
see!" 

And every night that June we heard 

Them trombones' snarls and cornets' ravin's; 

The cashier of the Farmers' Bank 

Said Jake had drawed out all his savin's. 

The great day come. And down the road 

A bust o' music, like a storm. 
And here comes " Catfish," with his band 

Each in a brand-new uniform! 

Jake and the boys struts on the stand — 
Good Lordy! What a high-tone manner I 

The Pres'dent halts. The band explodes 
Into the " Star Spangled Banner." 

11 



" Catfish " Never no band played like that day, 
Green It sure did make my pulses jump. 

Jake takes the high note sweet and clear - 
And sinks down .with a little thump. 

The music stops — they .lifts him up — * 

One little sigh, and Jake is dead. 

That high-note climax of his life 

Bust a blood-vessel in his head. 
• ••••• 

Well, at that time, to my kid mind 
Thinkin' o' Jake, it sure did seem 

A foolish way to waste a life 
Chasin' a silly sort o' dream. 

But now I kinder guess I hope 

The Lord will treat me that way, too. 

I'll gladly go, like " Catfish " Green, 
Knowin' I made my dream come true. 



78 



Oh, yes, I spose a day has got to come L'Envoi 

That gets around to all of us at last, 
That Springtime won't mean much excep' a sea- 
son, 
And April nights won't make our heart beat 
fast. 

And we can watch the long green rollers breakin', 
And be real pleased to stay all safe on shore — 

Nothin' but catchin' colds, or wearin' rubbers, 
Or things hke that'll matter any more. 

And glad or sad times that we useta feel so. 
And hopes and thrills that we could find in 
looks. 

And how a kiss could burn us like a fire — 
They'll be like stuff we read about in books. 

Let's don't be like the others — scared or .sour, 

Forgettin' that life wasn't always slow, 
Growlin' at fun and dancin' and happy laughin', 

Snoopin' and spyin' 'round, and snarlin', 

"No I" 

79 



L'Envoi Promise that you'll be different ! — not like 
them ! — 
Fight for the ways of seein' fresh and true ! 
Keep all you can of what the world meant to you 
When you was young, and life was real . . . 
and new I 



80 



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